SEL and CRT in math? Why one state just rejected 50 textbooks

Florida says certain math materials were excluded because they would have exposed students to 'dangerous and divisive concepts.'
By: | April 18, 2022

Math is one subject that has so far escaped the controversy that political leaders have created over critical race theory and social-emotional learning.

But that’s no longer the case in Florida, where officials—invoking phrases such as “parents’ rights” and “indoctrination”—are this week touting their rejection of dozens of math textbooks for containing elements of CRT, SEL, and—in a flash from the past—Common Core.

Out of 132 math textbooks submitted, the Florida Department of Education rejected 54 (41%) for “references to critical race theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core and the unsolicited addition of social-emotional learning (SEL) in mathematics,” the agency said in a news release. Officials did not provide any further details or specifics about how these textbooks ran afoul of state standards.

“We continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said.

More than 40 of the math textbooks that were rejected incorporated CRT and other “prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies,” the state said. The state rejected more than two-thirds of the math textbooks submitted for grades K-5 for not being aligned with Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards.

Officials accused some textbook publishers of attempting to “slip rebranded instructional materials based on Common Core Standards into Florida’s classrooms.” Publishers can appeal the rejections or revise their materials to meet Florida standards, the state says.

Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, referred to as “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

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